Colaiste Ailigh, Letterkenny 39 (24)
Scoil Neasain, Baldoyle 34 (20).
A packed National Basketball Arena saw the first 2013 All-Ireland Schools Cup go to Donegal as Colaiste Ailigh, Letterkenny claimed the U16 C Boys title after a closely fought encounter with Pobail Scoil Neasain of Baldoyle in Dublin.
Both teams started the game somewhat tentatively and it was three and a half minutes before the first score of the game was registered when Sean Mac a tSaoir converted a free throw.
The slow start was not caused by a shortage of chances however as both teams had success driving to the basket early on. The ball simply refused to drop despite the close in attempts, a problem that would quickly rectify itself as the players’ nerves settled.
By the end of the first quarter the score read 18 to 10 in favour of the boys from Letterkenny who proffered from some fine outside shooting by Evin Breathnach and Matís Mac Ceallabhuí.
For Scoil Neasain, Gabriel Ogundipe was proving to be a major force inside and it was evident he would be a thorn in the Colaiste Ailigh defence all afternoon.
In the second quarter, Scoil Neasain dragged themselves back into contention, led by their captain and point guard Kevin Murphy who directed affairs on the court. The boys from Baldoyle were aided by the introduction of Sean Smith who quickly contributed four points helping his team enter the halftime break down by just four, 24 to 20.
Set up for an exciting showdown, the second half did not disappoint the large and boisterous crowd in attendance as the two sides traded blows with the gap on the score board never growing greater than six points.
The highlight of the third period was a superb up and under move by Colaiste Ailigh’s Mac a tSaoir that wrestled the lead back off Scoil Neasain directly after they had finally tied it up.
The period ended 30 to 28 in favour of Colaiste Ailigh whose Oisin O Cleirigh was beginning to exert a bigger influence the longer the game went on, scoring his 13th and 14th point early in the fourth to extend his team’s lead.
Scoil Neasain were not to be dismissed so easily however and continued strong play from Ogundipe and Murphy, who were ably assisted by Smith, had them within touching distance coming down the stretch.
It was not to be however as Colaiste Ailigh always kept their noses in front and when Evin Breathnach and then Maitís mac Ceallabhuí forced turnovers in the dying minutes it proved the decisivie blow, leading to the Letterkenny school winning on a final scoreline of 39 to 34.
olaiste Ailigh of Letterkenny has just won the U16 C Boys All Ireland Schools' Cup with an MVP performance from Gabreil Ogundipe of Pobail Scoil Neasain of Baldoyle. Winning
Colaiste Ailigh, Letterkenny 39 (24) (O Cleirigh 15, S Mac a tSaior 9, E Breathnach 6)
Pobail Scoil Neasain, Baldoyle 34 (20) (G Ogundipe 16, S Smith 8, P Shannon 4)
MVP - Gabreil Ogundipe of Pobail Scoil Neasain of Baldoyle
U19 C Boys All-Ireland Schools Cup Final
U19 C Boys All-Ireland Schools Cup Final
St Mary's College, Ballysadare-Sligo 54 (32)
Colaiste Pobail Setanta, Dublin 45 (20)
The game itself got off to a rip-roaring start as neither team looked to be intimidated by the deafening atmosphere in a packed National Basketball Arena.
Indeed, the early exchanges saw a barrage of made three point shots as first Pobail Setanta and then St Mary’s made open looks count.
On target for the boys from Dublin were the deadly backcourt combination of Venz and Carl Pagayonan while St Marys’ Karolis Gunka clearly stated his intentions for the game, knocking down a shot from well behind the arc.
The free-flowing start continued throughout the quarter as the teams traded blows before the lads from Ballysdare began to edge in front with Oliver Brockman’s penetration a key factor in this.
Leading 17 to 12 entering the second quarter, St Mary’s were beginning to look the better team and when Dominikyas Kutar switched into the post on offence, they began to find increasing holes in the Pobail Setanta defence.
The easy scores found in the first period were drying up for both teams however and, perhaps seduced by early successes, players began settling for shots from distance without testing their opponents first.
St Mary’s fared better in this stretch and despite foul trouble that sent Brockman to the bench, extended their lead to 32 to 20 by halftime.
Pobail Setanta had become quite reliant on both Pagayonans to create chances and with the lads from Ballysadare well aware of this fact, Setanta began finding it increasingly difficult to source scores.
Despite this, the Dublin based school came out fighting in the third quarter and with Urosh Kutijevac, George Chis and Furuq Idris rebounding extremely stayed in contention.
They could never truly get close however and St Mary’s always continued to hold a double digit lead for most of the second half.
There was some late drama after Pobail Setanta narrowed the gap to nine with three minutes remaining. Buoyed by the large support, they found momentum from nowhere and when Matteo Da Ponte nailed a huge three to leave just six between them it looked like an epic comeback could be on the cards.
Up stepped Brockman for St Mary’s who was truly immense when his team needed him most, scoring eight of the last nine points to seal the game.
St Mary's College, Ballysadare-Sligo 54 (32) (K Gunka 19, O Brockmann 18, T Brockmann 9) Colaiste Pobail Setanta, Dublin 45 (20) (C Pagayonan 17, M da Ponte 11, V Pahayonan 10)